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Etiquette Course in Tipping, and Misc.

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  • asdf Nov 6, 2006 02:45 AM
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I usually enjoy visiting a few favorite restaurants, where I know what I like and what I can expect from the kitchen and the servers - this channels into what I can expect to tip at the end of the night. But recently I went to an upscale, expensive beyond what my wallet would have liked, kind of restaurant, and unsurprisingly enough, I felt slightly out-of-sorts when it came to the end of the night. Not because I didn't know tips usually average out at 20%, but because when I paid my check, my server asked if I wanted change ...Well certainly I want change, it's still about $25 of it. That confused me, 'cause do these higher-end restaurants simply keep the change, because he couldn't have expected his tip to be that little ..right? And for him to ask that, should I have already included the tip when I paid for my entire check - or is leaving tip on the table still the normal thing to do? Thanks guys for any help clarifying this for me.

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  1. This question unnerves me, too - and makes me feel a little pressured. If I am paying with a credit card, of course it's not an issue. If I am paying with cash, I expect my change, from which I will then leave my tip, augmented if necessary to reflect the 20% or whatever service level I have been given.

    I don't really know what the conventions are for leaving the tip on the table anymore - it seems to have changed with the increased use of credit card - but with the service folders that present the check, I can just as easily insert my cash tip and hand it back to my server.

    Funny bit - I had a lunch with a friend - both of us paying cash in a casual place, both planning on the tip-on-the table route. Lunch check is 19.97. We pass over a twenty. Server asks if we need change. My friend, on a whim, says yes, tongue in cheek. Server is at a loss, tells us, no one has ever said they needed change before.

    Know your bill, know the amount you want to tip, don't feel pressured OR weird because you're paying in cash.

    1. Asking, do you want change?" suggests a lack of class.

      3 Replies
      1. re: beevod

        No, it doesn't suggest a lack of class; it DEMONSTRATES a lack of class.

        Asking me whether I want MY change will get you a "Damn straight!" and will earn you a complaint to management and a 25% reduction in the tip, unless the amount I had been planning to tip was more than the change: in that case, the tip becomes the change minus 25%.

        1. re: mclaugh

          OK, that's a bit harsh. You've got to base it on your surroundings. For example- if I'm at a bar and giving 4 dollars on a 3.50 beer then it's perfectly reasonable to ask if I want my change. But if I'm at a restaurant and I lay down a 50 for a 35 dollar meal then change should always just be given. The easiest rule of thumb should just be to always give change, but in some cases it's not offensive to just ask, especially if the place is crammed and the server is being pulled from all ends.

          1. re: jpschust

            I don't think it should matter at all. Change should always be brought. Asking "Do you need change" suggests that you suspected somehow that the customer wasn't oging to leave a tip.

            Occassionally, when asked, I'll go ahead and say "go ahead and keep it" when if I'd been brought change, I would have thrown down a little extra. It's annoying to be asked.

            If I'm in a hurry and leave enough to cover the tip on the first go, I'll go ahead and tell the server that I don't need change.

      2. While it may seem a minor difference, I think servers should always say "I'll be back with your change." so the customer can say "okay", "that's not neccesary" or nothing at all.

        Asking "Do you want change?" is poor practice and could understandably lead to a smaller tip.

        Thanks,

        Kevin

        3 Replies
        1. re: KOK

          right!

          1. re: KOK

            Absolutely!

            1. re: KOK

              +1

            2. Oh, that's one of my pet peeves as well. It's so tacky! Surely the thing to do is to say, "I'll be right back with your change" - therefore giving me the chance (if I care to) to reply, "No, just keep it."

              It's the equivalent of what someone mentioned in another thread, "You still working on that?"

              1. I don't see this as a big deal either. In my experience, the server does not look at the bill and money presented before asking "do you need change." I simply answer yes or no, depending on which it is. Often, I will add the tip to the bill when paying in cash, so I deem that a reasonable question. If the waiter kept the change without asking, now that would be objectionable.

                1. The question "do you want change" is not limited to just high-end restaurants. I've been asked this from servers from diners on up. Usually the lower to middle-priced restaurants. It's become standard shorthand for "do you want me to make an extra trip?" Sometimes the server doesn't even bother to look at the amount of cash you're giving them.

                  I remember one incident where I was in a diner and my eggs & coffee were about $11 and the question came up. I immediately answered "Well, I don't think an $11 bill merits a $9 tip, do you?" The server and I both laughed because she then looked at the bill.

                  I'm not saying this question is not tacky because it does make people uncomfortable. Perhaps they want to leave more than the change from the check. Anyway, don't let it rattle you. Give what you want, period.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Flynn1

                    I don't think you're giving our serving industry enough credit. She served your meal, and had no idea what the total would be? While I wouldn't expect her to mentally calculate the exact total, but she should be in the ball park, especially with a $11 total. At a more elaborate meal, with appetizers, wine, other drinks, dessert it's harder, but they have a ball park idea.

                  2. When I worked as a server, I found it helpful and least offensive to the customer to say "I'll be right back with your change" and then leave it up to them whether or not to say "keep it." I would use this statement whether or not I assumed the change was my tip to keep.

                    1. This subject was brought up a couple months ago here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: OCAnn

                        Yes, I was going to point this thread out as well.

                        The (I thought helpful) distinction was made between the situation where the waiter asked this question WITHOUT looking at what was in the billfold, in which case it was deemed an innocent, helpful type question (i.e. does the waiter have to hurry back with your change because you'll be waiting on it, or can he attend to something else); vs. if the waiter had looked to see how much money was being left to pay the bill, in which case the question could be percieved as rude and manipulative, especially if the dollar amount left over clearly exceeded a standard tip.

                        1. re: DanaB

                          exactly.

                      2. Better to ask if you want the change then to assume it's all set. I had this happen to me the other night. The server grabbed the bill before I had a chance to tell him it was all set, and then he just returned and said thank you. Some people may have wanted change.